Malaysian business players cannot afford to “sit still” in today’s competitive markets. prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said, as one of the world’s 25 exporting nations, local players must be relentless to seek new markets, diversify products and provide new job opportunities for young talents. “So, as the world’s economic epicentre moves east, it becomes clear to everyone that in the 21st century, Asia’s time has truly come… we must make the most of this moment. “And that means that we must certainly take advantage of China’s Belt and Road Initiative or BRI, which has the potential to create the world’s largest platform for economic cooperation,” he said, adding that the BRI aimed at connecting cities in 68 countries across Europe, Asia and Africa. This, he said, represented a market of approximately 4.4 billion people, or about 63 per cent of the world’s population and 30 per cent of the global gross domestic product (GDP).
“Those are the markets that Malaysia will be able to tap into even more once connectivity is enhanced,” Najib said at the “Future Begins Tonight” dinner. Also present were his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Malay Chamber of Commerce (DPMM) president Risal Faris Mohideen Abdul Kadir and National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Malaysia (NCCIM) president Tan Sri Ter Leong Yap. The Future Begins Tonight programme involves the launch of the Global Council Strategy involving five international initiatives and the DPMM Masterplan 2018, which includes 16 national initiatives. On the international initiatives, Najib said these involved key collaborations with countries from around the region, including India, Sri Lanka, China and Indonesia. “I can assure you that when we say these examples of cooperation are win-win, this government will be making certain that Malaysia does its share of winning. “The foreign direct investment we receive in Malaysia provides jobs and skill transfers and improves the standard of living for millions of families and we welcome it wherever the investors come from… just as I can tell you that countries around the world are very glad when Malaysians go to invest there!” The prime minister had described the Future Begins Tonight as “one that is justified”. He lauded DPMM and NCCIM for taking the lead in forming a unified Chamber of Commerce. This, Najib added, would complement and support the government’s efforts as it adapted to the challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolution and capitalises on its opportunities. “Your powerful messages of unity bodes well for all the chambers of commerce throughout the nation to work together as one strong cohesive force to make the most of the tremendous possibilities today. “I wish to reiterate that your contribution over many decades since the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry was formed in 1837, the Associated Chinese Chamber of Commerce Malaysia in 1921, the DPMM in 1938, the Malaysian Associated Indian Chamber of Commerce in 1950 and the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) in 1968 have been pivotal to the nation’s economic progress. “Let me pay tribute to this admirable initiative that has all the chambers of commerce coming together to work towards the future we want for Malaysia,” he said. The prime minister later launched the Human Resource Development Fund’s National Workforce Human Capital blueprint (2018-2025), which highlights the success in building the Malaysian work force so far and outlines recommendations for future-proofing Malaysian talent. Najib then received a white and black Persian cat called Sugar. The six-month-old male cat was given to him by Malaysian Cat Lovers Club president Dr Thomas Jong in conjunction with the establishment of the Bustana Kucing animal shelter in Perlis. The prime minister has several other cats, including Kiki, Leo and Simba.